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Local Couple Brings The Islands To 209 Region
new business
New business owners Erica and Roberto Escobar are bringing the scent of the islands to the region through candles and varying other products. - photo by TERESA HAMMOND

A little bit of Aloha has made its way to the 209 area and, in particular, the 95361. Thanks to the passion and vision of business owners Erica and Roberto Escobar, Ike Loa Candle Co. has opened a storefront on the east side of Oakdale.

Located at 136 N. Maag Ave., the island-inspired shop is complete with candles, sprays, soaps, lotions and a variety of gift items.

“All of our fragrances are free from harmful chemicals. No harmful wicks. Our wicks don’t have any zinc in them,” Erica said of their handmade products. “They’re all 100 percent braided cotton and we use coconut, soy wax. A mixture of both coconut wax and soy wax, which is why we have extremely long burn times.”

“Extremely long” burn times to the tune of 65 hours for one candle. Something the candle maker is proud of given her initial love and passion for candles.

The couple first began their home-based cottage business two and a half years ago when Erica’s mom could no longer handle the scent of her storebought candles. Having a love for her mom, who was in chemotherapy at the time, as well as an affinity for candles, the entrepreneur began experimenting.

“It wasn’t until I started making candles, when I noticed how many bad things were in the candles I was burning,” Erica said, noting much of her knowledge was gained from YouTube tutorials.

“YouTube is great but they leave out a whole lot,” she shared, adding that she and her husband initially thought it was easy and then learned maybe not so much.

Further demonstrating her love for her mother, a native of Hawaii, Erica began dabbling in scents which would remind her mom of home. During the initial 10 months of the business, scents were given to family and friends for feedback.

The couple shared this quickly grew as family and friends wanted more to give as gifts, as well as stock their own homes.

“There’s a whole lot of science that I wasn’t expecting in candles,” the candle maker stated, sharing they first launched the business via their website as well as attending Farmer’s Markets primarily in the Bay Area.

As a candle-based company, the couple shared they sell something you can’t smell online and recognized the need for a store front.

“We built our brand over there, but when we got too big we wanted to open a store, but of course we wanted to open where we live,” Erica said of opening their shop in Oakdale.

An endeavor which began in June of this year and finally launched by opening their doors in September.

Production of their products from the making of each item, right down to the labeling is all done by them in their Oakdale home.

Describing their business as “a home scent boutique,” Erica shared her excitement for bringing this unique niche business to Oakdale and surrounding areas.

“A lot of times people love Hawaii when they’re in Hawaii, but then when you come home you don’t really think about it,” she said. “I wanted to definitely bring that here.”

To further bring a bit of the island life to the Central Valley, the couple also carry some of their favorite brands in the shop to share with customers. Their products are also currently sold in hotels in Hawaii, as well as in a few select shops in the Bay Area as well as Oakdale’s newly opened Wynfull + Wonder.

“It feels really good,” Erica said of the newly opened shop. “The response so far has been great. Everyone that comes in has been very complimentary.”

And they also enjoy that people are connecting with the product.

“I like what it does for other people,” she said of creating her home scent products. “When somebody smells something and I see their eyes close and for a second it transported them to either a memory or a time, I love that.”

As for the business name, that also has a tie to her mom and homeland, as well as a tie to the evolution of the home-based business.

According to the couple the words, “Ike Loa” means perpetual learning; to always be seeking wisdom.

“We should always be learning. The words really resonated with me for life,” Erica concluded.

new business
Island fresh scents, as well as Hawaiian based products fill the shop of newly opened Ike Loa on the east end of Oakdale. - photo by TERESA HAMMOND